Is Overwatch Dying? How Many People Are Actually Playing?

Is Overwatch Dying? We take a deep dive and provide our perspective.

Is Overwatch dying this year, or is the fanbase just patiently waiting for the much anticipated Overwatch 2? The answer isn’t so simple. Overwatch, back in 2016, rekindled people’s love for FPS games again. Since then, there have been plenty of FPS titles that come and compete, but Overwatch still stands. With all these new FPS titles and the craze around battle royales, the hype for Overwatch has definitely gone down but is it enough for the game to die out completely? 

Is Overwatch Dying? 

The number may surprise you. It is a five-year-old game, and as of November 2020, there are still a whopping 10 million monthly users logging in. This number indicates that Overwatch is not dying in 2021. Some may argue that it is a drastic drop from the 50 million users; there is no denying that. However, the game still has a significant fan base. 

While games such as Valorant and Call of Duty: Warzone might have slowed Overwatch's momentum, the game is still far from dead, with its 10 million active players still showing up each month. Even though Overwatch is now sharing its players with these shiny new titles, Activision Blizzard doesn't seem to be too worried about the game's success. At least, not publicly.

One of the reasons why the active player base is staying steady is because of the different ways you can play it. It is now officially available on every single console out there, including the Switch. With the game being so accessible for so many different players and the hype of Overwatch 2, it’s no wonder the game is still pulling 10 million monthly users. 

Viewership Perspective: Why The Huge Decline?

An active player base is an excellent way to show a game’s popularity. However, there is another metric to show this is to compare the viewership numbers over the years. Here is a graph that shows the rise and fall of Overwatch viewers on Twitch monthly: 

On average, the viewership on Twitch for Overwatch has gone down drastically starting back in September 2019. With a peak of over 47,000 viewers in August 2019 during the Overwatch League, the viewership was just around 20,000 across January 2021. Overwatch could be dying on Twitch because of a lack of content and no new agents to shake things up.

TwitchTracker reported that Overwatch is the 27th most-watched game on Twitch, thanks to its 2.63 million total viewing hours. It has still maintained some popularity on Twitch and beyond due to the Overwatch League. Many esports fans enjoy watching the pros compete in top-level matches throughout the year. About 1.55 million total viewers watched the 2020 Overwatch League Grand Finals. Big congratulations to the San Francisco Shock on the Grand Final Title!

Popular streamers have also helped keep Overwatch somewhat popular on Twitch. In October 2020, there were 2,500 concurrent streams of Overwatch, the year's peak. This is similar to when the game first came out in 2016, showing that Overwatch remains popular with streamers.

A big thing to consider is the concern of lack of content for the fanbase. As you can see from the numbers, people loved and still love this game! But there has not been anything new and exciting for people to watch besides Overwatch 2. What can Activision Blizzard do to bring this back up to standards? 

What is Next For Overwatch?

Since there have been calls for more content from the fans, Activision Blizzard announced Overwatch 2 last year. They even came out with a trailer for it! 

Since the announcement of Overwatch 2, however, the original game has mostly been ignored. Activision Blizzard has stopped releasing new heroes and maps. During its first few years, players used to get three heroes and maps a year which kept the game feeling fresh. The sequel was delayed potentially until 2022. This means that players are now waiting even longer to access new heroes, maps, and game modes. 

While it is unknown if Overwatch 2 will save the franchise, fans of the franchise will likely come back to the game to give it a go, as the sequel’s PVP will be free for all existing Overwatch owners. The game could be a great step in the right direction for the franchise.

Since it’s been five years, it’s now time for the Overwatch Anniversary Event. Activision Blizzard does this event every year to celebrate the game and the fans. As many fans predicted, they left it extremely late to confirm when Overwatch's 2021 Anniversary Event is due to begin. We had a good idea of when to expect this year's event to take place from past events, and now we know that it is starting today, the 18th.

Given the numbers, it doesn’t seem that Overwatch is dying. The game may have its flaws, and it may not have as many active players as it once did, but there is undoubtedly a bright future for the esteemed FPS title.